There’s streaming, CDs of course and (the revival of) vinyl. While there is a path from vinyl to CD to streaming is, it looks different with streaming when it comes to older vinyl only releases, since there doesn’t exist a digital copy at all. I myself own a lot of rare vinyl records of the late 70s and early 80s, some LPs, some 12″ or 45rpm singles, that are not infrequently limited to a few 100 copies.
I would very much like to digitalize these vinyl records, but I fear the thousands of hours of work, and also issues of quality. While this is so far a personal “problem”, there is of course the greater issue of cultural preservation and access. The Internet Archive pursues exactly this intention.
An actual community project by the Internet Archive, called the Great 78 Project, goes even further back than my time.. From about 1898 to the 1950s, singles have been made on 78rpm discs. A large part of these artifacts were never digitized before, since the commercial value was not given.
“We aim to bring to light the decisions by music collectors over the decades and a digital reference collection of underrepresented artists and genres. The digitization will make this less commonly available music accessible to researchers in a format where it can be manipulated and studied without harming the physical artifacts. We have preserved the often very prominent surface noise and imperfections and included files generated by different sizes and shapes of stylus to facilitate different kinds of analysis.”